Who We Are

Richmond Academy of Ballet is a passion project.  We are a married couple who have devoted our lives to this beautiful craft.  We've grown up with it, it has provided us with a living as performers and teachers.

 

Our mission is simple - to inspire generation after generation to see more beauty in the world and then to find their own contribution to it.  We guide our students to find motivation within. Children must learn that great accomplishments are not achieved through brief fits of strenuous effort, but through consistency, discipline and endurance.  It is essential for them to experience the sense of freedom and confidence that comes from developing themselves in this way.  Having done so, no matter which path they choose in life, they will be well-prepared to succeed.

 
Richmond Academy of Ballet began in September of 2020, teaching socially distanced classes, 3 students at a time, in our parents' basement.  The families of our students supported us through word of mouth, and our school soon outgrew that tiny basement. 

 

In April of 2021, RAB opened the doors to its permanent home at 413-C Branchway Road, conveniently located, yet tucked away near Chesterfield Towne Center.  






Michelle Bettin/ Owner & Artistic Director

 

Michelle Bettin has danced professionally with Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Columbus Dance Theatre, and Manassas Ballet Theatre, where she met her husband and dance partner, Jack Bettin.

At nineteen, Michelle was a semi-finalist in the XII International Ballet Competition, Trujillo, Peru. She later returned that year to teach American jazz dance in Lima, and Arequipa, Peru.

She received her early training through Maryland Ballet Theatre and Georgetown School of Ballet. Michelle is a Cum Laude graduate of Towson University in Dance Performance and Choreography and has been certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer.

Later in life, Michelle studied ballet pedagogy through Mark Mejia and Linda Kintz, from Kintz-Mejia Academy of Ballet.

Michelle has been the Academy Director for Metropolitan Ballet Theatre - a non- profit arts organization, and on faculty with The Washington School of Ballet, Maryland Youth Ballet, and Joy of Motion.

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Together, Michelle and Jack Bettin are the proud owners of Richmond Academy of Ballet.

 


Jack Bettin/ Owner & Artistic Director

 

Jack Bettin has had the good fortune to have been mentored by three masters of ballet - Roudolf Kharatian, Linda Kintz, and Mark Mejia. These three masters instilled in him an understanding of ballet that is both deeply rooted in the Russian tradition and cutting edge in its expression.

He has trained on scholarship at the Washington School of Ballet, Kintz-Mejia Academy of Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, STEPS on Broadway, the Virginia School of the Arts and also at the North Carolina School of the Arts.  Jack has been certified as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and as a Gravity Yoga Teacher through Yoga Teachers College.

Jack has performed as a company member with the Sacramento Ballet, ARKA Ballet, the Washington National Opera, the Omaha Theater Company, Manassas Ballet Theatre (where he met the love of his life and long time partner, Michelle), and the Columbus Dance Theatre. He has enjoyed performing in theaters from New York to California, and many places in between.

Towards the end of his performing career, Jack served as the Principal Instructor, Choreographer, and Manager for the Falls Church School of Ballet under Linda Kintz and Mark Mejia. Among his former students are professional dancers and performers both in the United States and abroad.

In addition to his career in ballet, Jack is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and has worked as a Captain, Manager, Sommelier, and Wine Director in many restaurants, some of which have earned highly coveted Michelin stars. Among them are The Inn at Little Washington, Minibar by Jose Andres, and Tail Up Goat.  His time in hospitality has forged an awareness that extends to each individual student in his classes and has inspired him to create a reverent and welcoming culture in his school.

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Together, Michelle and Jack Bettin are the proud owners of Richmond Academy of Ballet.

 

 

 

 

Alyssa Fujimoto/ Contemporary Director

 

Alyssa began her training under the direction of Bonnie Story, Rick Robinson, Linda Fenton, and Stacey Bills. Upon receiving her BFA in Modern Dance, Alyssa continued her professional training with Aspire Modern Dance Company, Repertoire Dance Theater, Raw Moves, Wasatch Contemporary Dance and Salt Contemporary. In 2016, Alyssa co-founded the professional dance company The Oquirrh West Project where she worked as the Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer for three years. Additionally, Alyssa worked as the Artistic Director for Kinuko Modern Dance for one season.  Her choreographic works have received countless honors and awards, and have been featured across the country in both professional and studio settings. Her most recent choreographic project has been setting work on the students of Appomattox Regional Governor's School for the Arts.

Alyssa has 14+ years of teaching experience. She has continued her education by attending dance educator training with Sarah Pickett, RDT, Salt Contemporary, amongst others. She is CLI certified in Choreography, as well as CLI certified in Strength Training and Injury Prevention. She has also trained in sugar foot therapy techniques. To ensure the safety of her students, Alyssa has completed multiple YPAD safety and wellness courses. She has also received several hours of DEI training within her current YTT 200hr enrollment. Alyssa will complete her YTT 200hr with Susanna Barkataki in May of 2023. 

Upon relocating to RVA with her family in 2019, Alyssa has had the opportunity to work with several of the local studios. She is pleased to have found her dance home as a resident instructor with Richmond Academy of Ballet, and Prestige Dance.

 

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Allison Kahelski/ Studio Manager/ Childhood Development Specialist

 

Allison’s passion for ballet started at an early age while growing up in Chambourcy, France and Surrey, England where she was instructed in the Cecchetti and Royal Academy of Dance Methods.  She was inspired by her teachers and by the many extraordinary dancers she had the opportunity of seeing in Paris and London.  After moving back to the United States to Rhode Island she continued dancing classical ballet while being involved in theatre, musical theatre, and working with children.

She went on to study Theatre, Elementary Education and Spanish at the University of Rhode Island. While in Rhode Island she worked in the  modeling industry locally on the runway. She has always had a passion for fostering enthusiasm and love of learning in children through creative teaching techniques. Her teaching career began as a Dance/ Drama integration teacher working to teach content in the elementary school classroom while using dance, movement and drama techniques. While continuing on as an elementary school teacher, she earned her MA in Education, with most of her research focusing on integrating the Arts into core curricular subjects.

During her 14 year teaching career, she adored inspiring children from preschool age through the college level, earning the title of Teacher of the Year for her school and of one of Henrico’s Top Teachers. She also welcomed the opportunity as an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in the Education Department for 4 years, leading a class that explored and teaching and management techniques of Math, Science, Social Studies and Language Arts using Dance, Music, Art, and Drama.

Allison believes in inspiring self-confidence and positivity in a creative, safe learning environment and looks forward to working with the dancers at Richmond Academy of Ballet.

 

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